BERLIN – The leader of Germany’s Social Democratic Party, Martin Schulz, apologized on Thursday to his party for his role in its recent election defeat and urged members to have confidence in him so that he could continue leading in the coming years.
Schulz made his comments at the SPD convention in Berlin, where it would be decided whether he would continue to lead the party and whether the group would support a new government led by Chancellor Angela Merkel.
“From my side, I apologize. I cannot turn back the clock, but I can now try to do my best,” said Schulz, adding: “That’s why I ask today for your confidence.”
The SPD leader recalled his party’s “bitter defeat” in the federal election of Sept. 24, when it achieved its worst result since 1949.
“We haven’t only lost these elections. We have lost the last four. We have lost 10 million voters over these years, almost half,” he said.
SPD’s leadership does not want to rule out another grand coalition with Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union and its Bavarian wing, the Christian Social Union, but there are voices within the party that are against such a move and advocate for possible external support of a CDU/CSU minority government.
Schulz had discounted forming a grand coalition throughout the electoral campaign, and reiterated this stance in the ensuing weeks when exploratory talks between Merkel and the Alliance ‘90/The Greens and the Free Democratic Party collapsed.
However, in a bid to avoid another election, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and other European leaders, among them French President Emmanuel Macron, encouraged him to rethink his position and be open to dialogue.
The German electorate went to the polls in September, but no party garnered sufficient votes in order to govern alone.